International Food Swap
Snacks in Japan (2019)
Curious? I hear you…so was I when my friend and travel buddy first brought it to my attention. We’re both foodies and love trying new foods (both iconic and unique) when traveling. Additionally, we love to bring home snacks to ration upon our return. So, it piqued my curiosity when she sent me an invite to an international food swap group.
And by international food swap group, I actually mean a snack swap group. Because really, who doesn’t love snacks…and snacking…and food for snacking…and anything else to do with snacks? I call it an international food swap due to the fact that while the focus is typically snacks, it can include anything that can legally be sent and received by the countries involved.
I know there are now questions popping up in your mind. It just dawned on you with the words “international” and “countries” that you have to mail something abroad. Am I right? Well, yes this is true. In full disclosure, it isn’t always cheap but you do have control over what you send and how you send it. Before diving into the details of this fascinating operation, let’s take a look at the swaps I’ve done recently!
International Food Swap #1: Iceland
I went to Iceland in 2018 and it is in my top three all-time favorite places I’ve visited. The land of fire and ice is so diverse, the people are friendly, the country is safe, and Icelandic food is fantastic. So, when an Icelander commented that she wanted to swap with me, I was ecstatic!
So ecstatic, I started making a list right then of what all I wanted to get within our agreed-upon budget. My swap partner didn’t have any specific requests and just wanted to be surprised. After looking through the group photos for inspiration, I headed to the store to shop for my swap!
My Icelandic swap partner displaying what I sent her
In actuality, my eyes were bigger than both the shipping box and our budget so the reality of choice had to play out. At the end of said choice, I prevailed with a good mix of sweet, savory, fall-inspired, American iconic favorites. My swap partner was happy which made me happy!
My display of what my Icelandic swap partner sent me
As far as what I wanted from Iceland, I did inform my partner that I love and miss all things Icelandic chocolate. Armed with this information along with the fact I don’t have any allergies, she was set to shop. And she did that shopping quite well!
I am very happy with the fact that on October 16th, I received a box full of all kinds of different chocolate from Iceland. Bags of chocolate candies, chocolate cookies, chocolate bars, you name it. I tore into them immediately and found a milk chocolate bar filled with salted caramel to be my favorite so far (but I have a long way to go).
International Food Swap #2: Australia
My second swap was with Australia and occurred roughly two weeks later. I chose Australia for the next swap because I was supposed to travel there this year. Since I was unable to, I decided I wasn’t going to wait to try Vegemite, Tim Tams, and other Australian goodies!
My display of what my Australian swap partner sent me
My swap partner and I quickly decided on a budget and a timeframe to post and this time, we both made requests. As previously revealed, I wanted to finally try Vegemite. I have heard about it for so long! Also, Tim Tams. They are an incredible cookie snack that comes in several different flavors such as chocolate and caramel. I also wanted to try chicken crimpy flavored Shapes crackers. They supposedly are a lot like our Chicken In A Biscuit crackers which I love. Finally, I asked to be surprised by a few items.
My Australian swap partner displaying what I sent her
My Australian swap partner’s American snack requests were for Kraft Mac N Cheese. She loves it and they can’t get it in Australia. Otherwise, she wished to be surprised as well. I happily obliged her request and also sent some local items from Alabama and items to make banana pudding, a very southern dessert!
On October 24, I received my Australian snack box and I have completely fallen in love with caramel Tim Tams, chicken crimpy Shapes, and yes, Vegemite. I just might be rationing the Tim Tams and Shapes like they’re gold…
My new Aussie friend received her box nearly two weeks after I received mine due to internal delays with the Australian post. She is now enjoying her box and I am sending her recipes to make some new dishes!
International Food Swap #3: United Kingdom/Australia
Currently, in progress, this third swap is a bit different from the other two standards. Conducted as a group-wide (not so) Secret Santa swap, we commented and then became responsible for the person above us. Budgets this time are up to the sending partner and all packages must be sent by November 20th to allow for arrival in time for Christmas.
My (not so) Secret Santa box heading for the UK
I’m sending to the United Kingdom this time and receiving from Australia again. I am perfectly okay with this because I had the chance to request a replenish of my Shapes and Tim Tams along with new snacks to try!
I will update the information as soon as the swap is complete.
International Food Swap #4: USA/USA
If you paid attention to the heading, you’re likely confused right now. This “international” food swap is actually a domestic swap within the USA. My swap partner is from San Francisco and has access to Japanese snacks and Latin snacks. Both of these are on my desired list but Japan isn’t able to ship to the US at the moment. This sweet girl from San Francisco offered to send both types of snacks in exchange for southern-focused goodies!
My swap box heading to San Franciso
I will update once this swap is complete as well.
Future International Food Swaps
In the future, I am aiming to swap with the United Kingdom (where I would this time receive from the UK) around Easter because I am a huge Cadbury fan. Having spent Easter in the UK in 2019, I thoroughly enjoyed the “Cadbury land” they have going on over there since it’s a very limited product here in the United States.
How International Food Swaps Work
These are general rules of the group I joined. In spot-checking other groups, these also seem to be the gist of their general rules, more or less. *Always check the rules of the group you join as they can and do change. This is only to give you an idea of how they work and shouldn’t be taken as official rules.
In your post to the group:
- Introduce yourself including where you are from
- State the country with which you would like to swap
- Include your budget outside of shipping (which is always extra)
- Disclose anything that might be of importance to someone agreeing to swap with you such as allergies, special diets, special requests, etc.
- Tag admin as soon as you have confirmed a swap
Privately with your confirmed swap partner:
- Decide on a specific budget.
- Make known any allergies, likes/dislikes, preferences, requests, etc.
- Choose a timeframe and stick to it
- Confirm shipping addresses
- Send tracking info to your partner privately
- Send tracking info to admin as they (my group) do monitor swaps
- Inform your partner (obviously)
Optional (but courteous and well-received):
- Upon reception of your box, take a photo of your goodies to send to your partner and to post in the “successful swaps” group thread.
Plan to do a swap around the holidays or surprise a family member to uplift them. Give a box to a foodie friend for their birthday. Look for fun seasonal foods that come out at different times of the year in different countries. Do a themed swap. The possibilities are endless!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Vegemite and butter on toast in Australia
Regarding requests, don’t be shy. Most, if not all, swappers are happy to accommodate. As with my Vegemite from Down Under, if there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, it never hurts to ask. All they can say is no and I can’t think of a single reason they would unless it can’t be shipped, would be risky to ship due to container type or is out of their budget.
Where to Find International Food Swap Groups
There are many different groups out there mainly on Facebook (that I’m aware of at time of publishing), but this group is the one I use and describe in this post. My particular group is female-only but not all are.
I think the benefits are quite obvious but they include the fun of anticipating the arrival, the art of surprise, the joy in food, making new friends, learning about new countries, and even learning about yourself through new culinary experiences.
These groups are still relatively new to the scene as it relates to current times. Some groups are moderated better and/or more closely than others. Realize that participation in ALL of these groups is voluntary and at your own risk and that there are financial risks involved. I’ve only had great experiences but I do want to be completely transparent in this area.
How is that for “unique travel” to match a unique year? Pretty awesome, right? How many of you have already joined? 😂 How many of you are about to race over to Facebook to do so? How many traveling foodies are rejoicing over this light bulb? 💡 No judgment here because I was just like this when the light was shed upon me!
If you have joined a particular group or participated in a swap, I would love to know about it and how your experience went. If you haven’t joined or participated, what are your thoughts on doing so?
‘Til next time…